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AgTech Accelerator formed by Bayer, Syngenta, other investorsqrcode

May. 9, 2016

Favorites Print May. 9, 2016

AgTech Accelerator formed by Bayer, Syngenta, other investors

AgTech Accelerator, a unique startup accelerator vehicle dedicated to emerging agricultural technologies, recently launched with $11.5 million in initial closing commitments. The investors participating in the financing include Bayer, Syngenta Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, Harris & Harris Group, Inc., Hatteras Venture Partners, Mountain Group Capital and Pappas Capital.

Located in Research Triangle Park (RTP), N.C., one of the most diversified agriculture and life science ecosystems in the United States, AgTech Accelerator will create the next generation of companies embracing the shift toward collaboration and external innovation in agribusiness today.

A Proven Model

Leveraging the core operating principles and 13-year track record of its strategic partner, Accelerator Corporation, AgTech Accelerator is well positioned to identify, form, finance and manage the most promising emerging agriculture companies to build great products and deliver strong returns. Led by a single, highly engaged, shared management team, new companies will gain access to a proven operating model, remarkable industry advisors, institutional partners and well-resourced facilities, as well as committed and sophisticated capital.

AgTech Accelerator's efficient platform removes common business development hurdles faced by science-based startups to allow founding technical experts to focus solely on achieving critical discovery and development milestones.

"Businesses that serve the agriculture industry must convert increasingly complex and integrated early-stage technology into differentiated solutions and products. It is really difficult for global agribusinesses to do it all in-house and R&D timelines are compressing.

This necessitates new, external innovation and collaboration models," said John W. Dombrosky, CEO of AgTech Accelerator. "Our unique model fosters a 'new entrepreneurialism in agriculture,' enabling new startups to fill a wide variety of important AgTech innovation gaps."

Leading AgTech Strategic and Blue Chip Venture Investors

Initial capital commitments will be used to start new businesses based on a wide range of technical disciplines and throughout the farm-to-market value chain. As fledgling companies grow under AgTech Accelerator's operating model, the investor syndicate will provide follow-on investment capital and access to world-class governance, strategic, business and individual management expertise.

"AgTech Accelerator has brought together a diverse group of seasoned and successful company builders to create and manage the next generation of startup companies based on the world's most promising agriculture-focused technologies," said Geoff Kneen, Ph.D., R&D licensing and new ventures manager, North America of Bayer's Crop Science division. "We look forward to sharing our global expertise with AgTech Accelerator to tackle some of the major challenges in modern agriculture."

"The hands-on, capital-efficient philosophy that AgTech Accelerator employs will shepherd and support companies that can sustainably improve agricultural productivity," said Derek Norman, Ph.D., head of corporate venture capital for Syngenta. "By eliminating traditional startup barriers, including raising capital and forming a leadership team, AgTech Accelerator will enable startups to focus on advancing promising science, make well-informed decisions and accelerate product development."

Institutional Partnerships and Access to State-of-the-Art Facilities

AgTech Accelerator will source opportunities and provide its companies with ongoing access to leading academic research partners. These collaborators include Duke University; North Carolina State University; Penn State University; Purdue University; University of California, Davis; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Washington State University.

By leveraging the institutions' broad and deep expertise in developing basic science, engineering, life science and agricultural science innovations, AgTech Accelerator companies will access and integrate novel technology, research, incubation and product development capabilities.

The initial close was led by Alexandria Venture Investments, the strategic venture capital arm of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE: ARE), a real estate investment trust (REIT) uniquely focused on world-class collaborative science and technology campuses in innovation clusters. The unique partnership with Alexandria creates a flexible path for AgTech Accelerator companies to get established and scale in RTP.

"Alexandria has been focused on accelerating startup ventures that hold the promise to transform areas of science and technology for more than 20 years. The time is now for AgTech Accelerator - we are thrilled to debut this unique model in RTP and to help support the next wave of AgTech entrepreneurs," said Joel S. Marcus, chairman, CEO and founder of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. and Alexandria Venture Investments. "Alexandria will provide startups 'just-in-time' access to our more than one million rentable square feet of high-quality office, lab and greenhouse space in RTP, enabling them to focus on their core scientific and technological competencies and capabilities."

Deeply Experienced Management

In conjunction with the initial financing and launch, AgTech Accelerator has assembled a leadership team, board of directors and advisory board composed of diverse and versatile industry stakeholders with deep experience in entrepreneurship, technical expertise, company-building acumen and longstanding AgTech relationships.

Leadership Team:

•John W. Dombrosky, CEO of AgTech Accelerator
• Jeff Rosichan, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of AgTech Accelerator

Board of Directors:

• Kristina Burow, managing director of ARCH Venture Partners
• Joe Cook Jr., principal of Mountain Group Partners
• John W. Dombrosky, CEO of AgTech Accelerator
• Doug W. Jamison, managing director, chairman of the board and CEO of Harris & Harris Group
• Roger Kemble, Ph.D., president of Kemble Advisors and former head of Syngenta Biotechnology R&D
• Geoff Kneen, Ph.D., R&D licensing and new ventures manager, North America of Bayer's Crop Science division
• Thong Q. Le, CEO of Accelerator Corporation
• Ken Lee, general partner of Hatteras Venture Partners
• Joel S. Marcus, chairman, CEO and founder of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. and Alexandria Venture Investments
• Ignacio Martinez, partner of Flagship Ventures
• Derek Norman, Ph.D., head of corporate venture capital of Syngenta
• Art Pappas, MBA, managing partner of Pappas Capital

Advisory Board:

• John R. Anderson Jr., Ph.D., MBA, president of Roanoke Research LLC and former director, technology development of Monsanto Company
• Doug Cameron, co-president of First Green Partners, and former chief scientist and research director of Cargill
• Roger Kemble, Ph.D., president of Kemble Advisors and former head of Syngenta Biotechnology R&D
• Jeff Rosichan, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of AgTech Accelerator
• Eric Ward, co-CEO and co-founder of AgBiome

AgTech Accelerator's unique model will help foster entrepreneurialism and sustainable businesses. Its presence in RTP will bring a new generation of companies to the region's rapidly growing AgTech sector.

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